Happy Birthday to Charles Frederick “Fred” Turner – born 16 October 1943!
Charles Frederick “Fred” Turner is a Canadian rock bassist, vocalist and songwriter, and was a founding member of the 1970s rock band Bachman–Turner Overdrive (B.T.O.). He is credited on early Bachman–Turner Overdrive and B.T.O. albums as “C.F. Turner”.
Fred Turner played in over a dozen bands in and around Winnipeg during his early adult years, his first vocal recordings being with the group Pink Plumm, which released one independent single. Based upon advice Randy Bachman received from Neil Young, Turner was subsequently asked to join Randy’s band Brave Belt in 1971. At the time, Turner was playing and singing in a cover band called the D-Drifters. The D-Drifters wanted to continue doing cover songs, and had repeatedly rejected Turner’s original compositions. When the call came from Bachman, Turner jumped at the chance to join a band that would give him an opportunity to play original material.
The lead vocalist for the first Brave Belt album was Chad Allan, Randy Bachman’s former bandmate from The Guess Who. When Allan departed shortly after the first album’s release, Turner stepped in as a full-time lead vocalist and bassist. He would contribute five song compositions to the follow-up Brave Belt II album (1972), and he sang lead vocal on all but two of the album’s eleven songs. While shopping around a proposed “Brave Belt III” album, the band changed its name to Bachman–Turner Overdrive (BTO). Although Randy Bachman was the more widely known name because of his years with The Guess Who, Robbie Bachman stated in numerous interviews that there could have been no “BTO sound” without Turner’s contributions: “The first Brave Belt albums were very country-rock. Everything changed when Fred joined the band. We had Fred Turner’s heavy, rough voice. We evolved because of Mr. Turner.”
When Randy Bachman left Bachman–Turner Overdrive in late 1977, Turner switched from bass to rhythm guitar to make room for bassist–vocalist Jim Clench. This new line-up for 1978–79 was only called B.T.O. and nothing else, due to legal issues surrounding the use of the Bachman surname. Turner resumed his original role on the bass when Bachman–Turner Overdrive re-formed for a 1984 album and subsequent tour.
Turner is the lead vocalist on many of Bachman–Turner Overdrive’s most popular tracks, including “Roll On Down the Highway,” “Let It Ride,” “Blue Collar,” “Four Wheel Drive,” “Not Fragile” and “Take It Like a Man.” His songwriting credits include “Gimme Your Money Please,” “Blue Collar,” “Not Fragile,” “Take It Like a Man” (with Blair Thornton), “Let it Ride” (with Randy Bachman) and “Roll On Down the Highway” (with Robbie Bachman).
Turner recorded a solo song for the Animal Magnetism CD called “Walk With You” in 1996. The Animal Magnetism album was put together by Riff West. Other musicians that recorded songs for this album include Lonesome Dave Peverett of Foghat, Pat Travers, and Edgar Winter. In 2000, he made a voice appearance with Randy Bachman on an episode of The Simpsons.
Turner’s last performance on stage with any formation of BTO was in 2004 with Randy Murray. The two were backed by members of the Little River Band because drummer Robbie Bachman and guitarist Blair Thornton were unable to attend BTO’s last show. Turner is the only member of Bachman–Turner Overdrive to be on every album the band released.